Pumpernickel’s has been providing nutritious meals for three decades. The food-franchise system offers dine-in and catering options with a variety of dishes to enjoy such as soups, sandwiches, or salads.
Canadian Business Franchise recently spoke with Pumpernickel’s franchisee Stephanie Tieu to learn more about the company, her entrepreneurial journey, and future plans for the business.
Canadian Business Franchise (CBF): Did you always envision yourself as an entrepreneur? (If not, what were your initial career aspirations?)
Stephanie Tieu (ST): When I was young, I wanted to become a teacher. I later envisioned myself in the broad field of business—but not as an owner. Although I did not consider it at the time, people close to me always saw me as a future boss. That said, I never thought I would find myself in this industry.
CBF: Why did you choose franchising?
ST: It is an easy way to enter the market, provides a strong foundation, and includes support. With lower risks, a strong customer base, and existing brand recognition, you can become established quickly.
CBF: How did you discover this franchising opportunity? (What drew you to this business?)
ST: The industry has shifted towards healthy consumption and now—more than ever—people care about what they eat. Pumpernickel’s has built a wonderful menu enabling nutritious and affordable eating.
After being a manager with the company for three years, the opportunity to become a franchisee presented itself. By this time, I had become largely invested in the business which made it an easy decision to accept the offer.
CBF: When did you buy your franchise? (Describe the process e.g. securing financing, selecting a location, legalities and documentation, etc.)
ST: I became a proud owner in January 2020. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to purchase an existing location right in the heart of Toronto’s financial district—an optimal location. Thankfully, my family assisted me financially throughout the process.
CBF: Describe a typical day of running your franchise.
ST: I start my day by planning, delegating tasks for staff, and organizing deliveries—catering can start as early as 6 a.m. The needs of the business vary—some days our sandwich department will need more attention, while others may see an unusual number of platter orders. It is difficult to predict what to expect—so I am always ready for whatever may come up. Most of our orders are sent out for delivery by midday. This allows me to plan for the next day, which includes submitting orders for suppliers and prepping items. While some catering companies need 24 to 48-hour notice for placing requests, Pumpernickel’s is able to accommodate a variety of last minute purchases.
CBF: Do you feel your educational background helps in your day-to-day tasks and overall business decisions?
ST: I graduated from the University of Guelph-Humber with a degree in business administration. I’m proud to say some of the courses I took in school continue to assist me with my daily operations. My fourth year ‘Managing a Small Business’ class has helped me with running my franchise.
CBF: What have been the highlights and challenges of running your franchise?
ST: My staff makes work enjoyable and rewarding—they are truly a wonderful group of people. Additionally, there is nothing better than getting positive feedback from consumers after a long day’s work. Knowing customers enjoyed the food we prepared is really satisfying. Another highlight of this franchise is we are only open during the week, which allows me to balance my work and personal life. The biggest challenge I face is the increasing cost to produce dishes. This is very difficult to control and means I need to use materials which create minimal waste.
CBF: How do you make your franchise stand out amongst others in the market?
ST: Our goal is to show Torontonians there is an abundance of good, healthy, and enjoyable food available to them. Our menu caters to people from all walks of life, with options such as a Montreal smoke meat sandwich or a vegan falafel wrap. These offerings can be ideal for business meetings where attendees’ eating preferences are unknown.
CBF: How has the business evolved since you started?
ST: We have improved consistency in our internal systems and processes. One major change is the implementation of an order desk which handles all calls and invoices. This greatly impacted our daily operations as it allowed staff to be unoccupied during crucial hours of the day.
CBF: What are your future plans?
ST: I want to grow this franchise—there is no limit to what is possible with this business. Pumpernickel’s is open to suggestions and franchisors offer support—all of which ensures you succeed. Everyone is capable of becoming successful if you’re willing to put the work into it. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to purchase an existing location right in the heart of Toronto’s financial district—an optimal location. Franchising is an easy way to enter the market as it provides a strong foundation and includes support.